RAPTR Founder Dennis Fong Talks Getting Social with Core Gamers

We recently spoke with Dennis Fong, CEO and Founder of RAPTR. In this interview, Fong discusses the RAPTR platform and the benefits of using his company’s platform over Facebook to discuss gaming.

RAPTR allows gamers to keep track of the games they play, but more importantly make educated decisions on what stories and games a given player is interested in based on the games they’ve played. The service also gathers data across Xbox 360, PS3 (PSN) and PC to show gamers what titles are trending as well as what titles are falling in popularity. This is ideal for gamers who don’t get the chance to keep up on the latest trends and are looking for smarter ways to pick and choose new titles to play.

If you’re an N4G user, you may see this service as something similar to N4G. The content is all community generated and articles and videos can be voted up and down. However, Fong sees this new service as something different from N4G, due to the system’s intelligence.

Check out the interview with Fong to learn more about RAPTR, the new features and how to get the most out of your RAPTR experience:

‘The Killing’ Showrunner Veena Sud Welcomes Backlash

Whether you liked the season cliffhanger of The Killing or not, showrunner Veena Sud is okay with both reactions because that passionate banter, positive and negative, means that people are watching, right?

Sud told THR that she’s flattered and surprised by the response, “It’s a good feeling to know people are watching and talking about the show. I mean, the last time I felt this personally myself, and saw this type of reaction, was when The Sopranos ended its run [with a shockingly abrupt, ambiguous, mostly despised 2007 finale]. If the show can be in that company, it’s a deep compliment.”

“The fact that people love us or hate us is a beautiful thing. I don’t want to be kinda liked. The fact that someone loves my show or hates my show is great.” It is respectable that she would rather not have viewers on the fence, but it is smart to alienate so many viewers on a season ender before a long break? She might not be considering that people might not be so passionate to come back.

Now comparing The Killing to The Sopranos takes some stones, but the reason why David Chase’s mob opus ended in such controversy is that there was not an additional season to see what did happened in the end. It was left up to the viewer to determine what was Tony Soprano’s fate. So to end a series on that note was highly uncharacteristic. The Sopranos was also not a show that was built on red herrings like The Killing is. I’m all for ambiguity at the end of a story, but every week, for 13 weeks? Oh and how many months do we have to wait for season 2?

Sud makes no apologies for countless red herrings. “Well, there’s two ways to look at it. Either it’s a left brain journey where you’re just connecting the dots of who the suspects are or it’s more of a holistic journey where a young girl is murdered these are the potential suspects and this is why.”

Based on the Danish TV series, Forbrydelsen, The Killing took the unconventional route by telling a narrative that showed how many people were affected by the murder of a high school girl, Rosie Larsen. Family, classmates, the investigators, and a seemingly endless pit of viable suspects were all explored in the days that followed her death. It’s a stark contrast to other crime procedurals that rush to find the suspect and close a case within the hour. This one would take one entire season, or so we thought.

Here at Buzzfocus, we had our own initial thoughts post finale, a reaction that I echoed.

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The final episode of season one seemed to have a giant red herring, in a season full of them, negating what had seemed like a well-orchestrated 2-3 episode buildup of who the real killer was. In the final minutes, the rug was pulled out from the viewer and Detective Holder’s (Joel Kinnaman) reputation was tarnished after he had been built up the entire season as a capable and endearing character. One of the only ones I might add. And perhaps that is part of the rub, that the one of the most likable characters could also be a suspect. I’ve since cooled down (a bit) from the finale and considered that Holder could be a main orchestrator (which would be kind of great if you think about it). He was suspicions early on but seemed to alleviate them in more than a handful of times, gradually winning more fans as the season progressed. Maybe he’s just a tool. Or, maybe he was taking extra measures to mount the evidence on Darren Richmond.

Honestly though, it’s anyone’s guess and the cliffhanger left viewers nowhere better than the pilot with more questions than ever.

Sud added. “I want to let people know and assure fans that they will know who killed Rosie Larsen in Season 2.” Really? Ah, but she didn’t say when… In the original Danish series, it took 20 episodes to find out the killer, so in the show’s timeline, that’s 20 days after the murder. The AMC adaptation has deviated quite a bit, not focusing so much on the politics side, and how the murder affects the campaigns. The rumors are that the killer in Forbrydelsen is going to be different than the US version. But could we be looking at another 7 more episodes before the killer is revealed? Will we see resolution early in season two, or could we be looking at another full season before finding out?

• Is The Killing just trying to be true to the investigation process of following leads (many of which are dead ends), or are they trying to flick a spider dangling from its web AKA pissing viewers off?
• Has a few days allowed you to reflect on a suspect you didn’t initially consider, or do you not care anymore?
• What do you think about what showrunner Veena Sud had to say about the finale?

Jon Hamm Signs On For 3 More Years of ‘Mad Men’

According to Deadline.com, Jon Hamm has inked a very lucrative deal with Lionsgate TV that will keep him in the nicely fitted suits custom-made for his character, Don Draper, for the next three years. Hamm’s agreement aligns with the one Mad Men creator and showrunner Matthew Weiner recently signed which means the series will most definitely end when its seventh season does. (The assumption is that the final season will air sometime in 2014.)

Though details are purposely scarce, it is rumored that Hamm’s new deal will make him one of the highest paid actors on cable, reportedly making $250,000 per episode by the final season. We’re pretty sure that means Hamm is making more loot than Larry The Cable Guy over at History. (Hopefully, anyway, because if that’s not the case, we should be protesting in the streets, hippie-style.)

So, with three more years of Mad Men pretty much a done deal, does that mean the series finale will take place in 1969? Maybe with the first moon landing? Or with the New York Mets winning the World Series that October, since it is such a rare occurrence now? (Sorry, Mets fans.) Or, even crazier, will Don Draper ever utter the words “Far out, man!” while wearing a bell bottoms?

‘The Voice’ Episode 1.9 Review: The Semi-Finals

Last night’s episode of The Voice started off with an equally predictable and shocking results segment before getting right into the exhilarating semi-final performances.

As expected, America chose Vicci Martinez to head to the semi-finals. She is without a doubt the most talented singer on the team, so it is definitely satisfying to see someone so deserving in the semi-finals. As Cee Lo said, “America has great taste.” And Cee Lo’s protege, Nakia was personally chosen to move onto the next round. Talk about a predictable but very talented team! America’s choice for Team Adam was also very muh expected, as host ,Carson Daly announced Javier Colon as the top choice. But the results came to quite to an unexpected turn when Levine said, “I came in here thinking that I was going to go with you Jeff” and then he chose Casey Weston. Levine has been very vocal about choosing Casey the second time around during the blind auditions and has been passionate about working with her ever since, so it makes sense that he would choose Casey. However, considering how moving Jeff Jenkins has been, it was somewhat shocking that Levine did not go with his gut. Poor Devon Barley. It seems he did not stand a chance with Levine choosing. Good luck buddy!

After the results, which took less than the first 15 minutes of the broadcast (woo hoo!), all eight finalist were set to take the stage. First to take the stage was Frenchie from Team Christina who took on Madonna’s “Like A Prayer.” It was refreshing to hear Frenchi say that she was out of her comfort zone while Aguilera was saying that she wasn’t out of it at all. Sure, her voice isn’t out of the comfort zone but her personality clearly was for a moment. Just because she has the voice that she has, doesn’t mean she is comfortable using it to get that “church” feel. But Frenchie put all of her reservations aside and owned the song!

The performances went back and forth between teams instead of having a set in order by team. Depending on preference, this may or may not have been pleasing. Though, it would have been much more convenient to keep track of the artists if they performed by team. Anyhow, next to take the stage was Nakie from Team Cee Lo. Stepping out of the box even more, Cee Lo assigned Nakia Adam Lambert’s “What Do You Want From Me.” Like Adam Lambert, Nakia is a wonderful entertainer. Enough said.

Now at this point in the game, Dia Frampton seems to have the most creative control of all of the contestants. She chose to sing R.E.M’s “Losing My Religion” and even seemed to help arrange the performance. Frampton is very creative and does not hesitate to be such. So whether or not she wins The Voice, her debut album deserves to be number one. Blake Shelton did a fantastic job crafting his team!

Going from quite a high to quite a sleepy low… Casey Weston performed Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” which everybody knows from Whitney Houston’s version. If it hasn’t been said before, I’m saying it now. I am not a fan of this girl’s voice. She sounds like a singing sheep. She’s better than the cowardly lion but not by much. Harsh as it may be, she’s annoying. This feeling can be held in only for so long. What’s unfortunate is that Weston is a pretty girl and with all of her opinions, seems to have a strong head on her shoulders. But even this cannot help me get past her voice. Is she interested in publishing a book of poetry? I’d read that. But don’t expect me to go out to buy her album.

Beverly McClellan gave Frenchie a run for her spot in the finals with B.B. King’s “The Thrill is Gone.” As Cee Lo pointed out, there is something so pure about McClellan’s love for music and performing… so it is very easy to root for her whether or not viewers are even into her style of music. From one incredible talent to another… while many may have melted by the footage of Levine singing a bit of “Fix You” by Coldplay during rehearsals, Javier Colon did a great job, as usual.

Next, Xenia took on “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” by The Script. Her timing throughout the song, keeping up with the rhythm, was better than expected. But she was a bit pitchy on the high notes and was just as boring as her last performance. She’s a terrible performer but an incredible singer. It’s a shame because she would take over this competition if she were a better performer. Last to take the stage was Vicci Martinez with “The Dog Days Are Over” by Florence and the Machine. This was definitely the most fitting song choice and the most exciting performance to watch given the drum choreography. The Voice definitely saved the best for last! What a delight Martinez was to watch! What a delight!

The coaches had just as exciting of a night as the semi-finalists. Levine’s band, Maroon 5 performed the worled premiere of their new song, “Moves Like Jagger” with Aguilera which had everybody out of their seats, dancing away. Shelton also performed his hit, “Honey Bee” with team members, Frampton and Xenia coming out to share the stage towards the end of the number. Frampton was noticeably better than Xenia, who completely ruined the country vibe. Regardless, the song and performance were full of so much love, so the performance was not completely ruined.

So at the end of the broadcast, the coaches voted on their choice artists for the semi-finals, but America’s votes also play into who moves on. Voting for the semi-final performances closed the morning after the show. More about how the voting system works should hopefully be explained in tonight’s results show… because as of right now, it is very unclear how the coaches’ scores and our votes will balance out. Viewers were able to head into “The V Room” less than a handful of times throughout last night’s broadcast which was disappointing but surely, there must be a lot of talk online about casting for season 2, which has already begun! Which of your favorite undiscovered artists do you want to see in Season 2?

Watch The Voice performance shows Tuesdays at 9/8c and results shows Wednesdays at 8/7c on NBC.

*Photo Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

White Collar Episode 3.3 Review: Agent Diana Barrigan Goes Solo

marsha thomason white collar s 3
“Deadline”

Last night the boys took a back seat for a special undercover mission by Agent Diana Barrigan (Marsha Thomason). In “Deadline,” Helen Anderson, an aggressive and intense investigative journalist (Jayne Atkinson, 24) receives death threats but refuses the help of the FBI. She’s been investigating P & V pharmaceutical company and their cover up of fatal batch of a new drug that they refused to recall because it was so far in the approval process.

Diana goes in under the guise of an assistant looking for work and despite a tough interview she made it through. Left alone she handled demanding journalist as best as anyone could and behind the scenes, Peter and his team were making it happen. Nice way to double pack on those P & V goons as the baddies; never trust an Asian with the last name of “Sullivan.” I kid, I kid.

It’s always fun to see Peter (Tim DeKay) get into the act and do some role-playing while Neal (Matt Bomer) scoped out the scene of the pharmaceutical company. Another great Peter moment was seeing him in awe of Neal’s paper splitting trick and then trying unsuccessfully the rest of the episode to duplicate it. Give Peter credit; He’s showing Neal that his trust in him is completely restored but he’s using Jones and Barrigan to carry out his suspicions and making sure they’re notified if one of those paintings is sold.

Peter and Neal may have been offering support for Diana, but didn’t mean that Neal was taking the episode off. He tried to use his charm to intercept the manifest at Diana’s house, even using Sara (Hilarie Burton) to run a con with him on their double date with Diana and her girlfriend, Christie (Moran Atias, Crash). Neal worked his charm and even pulled out the story of how they met, (pottery class, Unchained Melody, you piece it together), but this episode he was always one step behind Peter which I liked, because sometimes it seems like it’s the other way around all the time. Neal and Sara are getting quite comfortable with each other’s “skills” and seem more than enthusiastic to help each other out. Is this how Neal worked his charm on Kate to run cons with him? Or is Sara willingly fine with being corrupted? You can read what Hilarie has to say about it here.

The big Neal moment of the night (other than having his shirt off to greet Sara) was when he and Diana were quoting the movie Ghost, which Peter overheard and said, “A ‘Ghost’ quote? Whoo. If you know how Diana and Christie met, then you are officially part of the family.” The look that Neal wore on his face could show that he is getting too close to everyone in the office and the burden/guilt of having the treasure could be weighing heavily on his mind, especially while he’s planning to con them all. If Neal does turn over the treasure, this episode could be a pivotal one for his character.

Now, unless I missed it, it’s not clear whether Mozzie (Willie Garson) sold the painting or not. They knew that Diana would be the one to translate the manifest, but Mozzie’s reaction at the end of the episode when Agent Matthews gave him the slip made it seem like he did sell it knowing the list was going to Washington D.C. This could be a major over-reaction by Mozzie; he’s is paranoid by nature. But had he sold the painting, I doubt he would have waited until the last day to make the switch.

marsha thomason white collar season 3.3There’s something I’ve noticed about some (thankfully not all) White Collar viewers online is that there’s this strange desire–again, by some–to keep the story strictly on Peter and Neal. Sorry, but I vehemently and respectfully disagree. There’s a great central story of White Collar and one I do believe drives the show forward, but there are excellent supporting characters (played by terrific actors) that contribute to the central story all of the time, who deserve to have the attention turned towards them every once in a while. This is not a two-hour film, this is an episodic television show that has been good enough to make it to its third season; I don’t believe it’s unreasonable for these other characters to share the spotlight. It mixes it up, and it makes the cast three-dimensional. No, I’m not talking about the glasses.

“Deadline” was a beautiful example of this as we got to see the talented Marsha Thomason strut her stuff and show why Diana was handpicked to be in Peter’s group, why Peter trusts her with the manifest and other important jobs. We also got to see a quick glance at her personal life because lots of people take their work home with them. Peter does it with Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen), Neal is doing it with Sara, you can damn sure bet Diana talks about her long days with Christie. Bravo to the White Collar writing staff for handling Diana and Christie’s relationship with the same care and warmth used for Peter and Elizabeth. Hopefully we get to see Christie again some day.

If you do have a problem with it, get over it, and get used to it because we’re going to see other supporting characters like Jones (Sharif Atkins), Mozzie, and Elizabeth be featured in future episodes, as well as their home lives. Hopefully, June (Diahann Carroll) too. If their episodes are as good as “Deadline” or even better, then I just don’t see how these are a bad thing.

Other highlights include:

• How Diana and Christie met in pottery class which pays off later when Neal does the penny up the wall trick from Ghost.

• Diana needs to use a Manchester accent for her cover when in real life, that is Thomason’s actual accent and hometown.

• Elizabeth’s “Burke Events” comes in to save the day as a ringer.

• Mozzie the mood killer leading to this moment:
Neal: Wait You’re leaving?
Sara: Mood’s sufficiently killed. Call me later, or come over.
Mozzie: Sure.
Sara: Not you.

• Best line of the night:
Helen: Who are you?
Diana: FBI Agent Diana Barrigan… Damn right I’m overqualified.

Next week Peter and Neal go undercover to help out Mozzie. Catch the new episodes of White Collar on Tuesdays at 9PM ET/PT on USA.

Autocrat Expert Megan Fox to Star in Sasha Baron Cohen’s ‘Dictator’

megan fox the dictator Not long after news broke Tuesday of Steven Spielberg’s role in Megan Fox’s release from Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, largely in part to her publicly comparing director Michael Bay to Adolf Hitler, did the actress land a role in Sasha Baron Cohen’s next film, The Dictator. Cohen will play two parts in the film, as a goat herder and a foreign ruler that’s been forced out of office who gets lost in the U.S.

Fox’s role is under wraps for now but will join a cast that includes Cohen, John C. Reilly. Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley and Jason Mantzoukas.

Perhaps this is Fox embracing her comedic side, after her flippant remark about Bay seemed to have been blown out of proportion by the mass media. The recent story involving Spielberg he may have triggered this latest casting as Fox continues to distance herself from action movie roles after Jonah Hex flopped at the box office.

Fox is starring in Friends With Kids, a new comedy from Jennifer Westfeldt (24, Kissing Jessica Stein) and Judd Apatow’s This is Forty.

There has been no word on any progress of her lead role in the feature film based on Aspen action comic, Fathom.

Jason Patric & Lucy Punch Cast as Leads in FX’s ‘Powers’

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The principle actors for FX’s adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming’s comic book series, Powers have been cast. Jason Patric (The Losers) will play the co-lead, Christian Walker as a detective who investigates super-powered cases. Lucy Punch (Bad Teacher) will play Walker’s fast-talking, firecracker detective Deena Pilgrim. The Powers pilot is being written by Charles H. Eglee (The Shield, The Walking Dead) and Michael Dinner (Sons of Anarchy) will direct.

powers calista bailee madisonAnother key casting announced earlier this week was Bailee Madison in the role of Calista, a young girl who is put in the care of Walker in the first story of the comic, “Who Killed Retro Girl?” Hopefully Powers will be a hit with audiences so that they’ll see Madison reprise her role much later. Patric, Punch, and Madison will join Charles S. Dutton (Roc) who will play department head Captain Cross.

The castings of Patric and may come as a bit of a surprise to fans because so much early casting scrutiny (by comic book readers) is usually based on the appearances or past work. That’s all anyone has to base any early apprehensions on since the public is rarely privy to auditions or gets to know the entire pool of actors who were up for the part. It’s an understandable reaction.

Now, what I can agree with is the discrepancy of the stature of both actors and that was likely a part of the problem of casting strictly on looks. In the comics Walker towers over Pilgrim seemingly over a foot. He is also barrel-chested with arms the size of tree trunks. Finding a guy that physically ominous who can also act to the level that’s fits in the standard of FX dramas would likely lead to inspired casting. The London-born Punch who is 5’8″ stands quite even with Patric who is 5’10”. Visually it will be an adjustment for readers of the comic, but what matters most is the adaption of the source material and the acting.

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As a longtime reader of the Powers comic, I trust that Patric will be a great score. Even though he has been off the radar as far as popular movies and television, his great talent can be seen as recently as Max in the feature film, The Losers, another comic book (by Andy Diggle and Jock) that made the leap to a more popular medium. Also he put in some memorable performances in Narc (2002) Sleepers (1996) and of course The Lost Boys (1987).

Punch will play the pivotal role in Pilgrim. A young detective on the job who is suddenly comes face-to-face with the powered beings, has a turbulent relationship with her partner, and has her fair share of secrets. Punch has been in several notable comedies as a character actor but this will be her biggest role. We will see this world and job through her eyes and if all goes well, this will be her breakout role. That’s how loaded Deena Pilgrim is as a character. Covering FX shows in the last year, I’ve often found that they cast several actors who are not household names at the launch of a series, but it doesn’t take long to realize why they were cast.

Powers pioneered comics that merged a homicide detective story in combination with an honest treatment of super heroes. Soon after, there were plenty. NBC’s Heroes even borrowed (badly) from the concept. Instead of the focus being on the super-powers, Powers was strongly influenced by David Simon’s book Homicide: A Year of Killing on the Streets (which inspired the NBC show, Homicide: Life on the Street) while Oeming’s art was an original, stylized look inspired by 1950’s and 1960’s film noir. It wasn’t realized until three years into the comic that Walker had an epic story. The comic grew a cult-following in the early 2000’s, published Image Comics before landing a new home with Marvel in 2005. It remains a unique comic that continues to combine a dark detective story, an epic hero story, powerful visual storytelling, and well-timed adult comedy.

What do you think about the casting choices? What’s your favorite Powers story? And which one would you like to see adapted on television?

Can You Say ‘Lights Out’ Part 2? Mike Tyson Joins Spike Lee in HBO Boxing Series

It seems that HBO is taking up the mantle on boxing dramas where FX left off. Spike Lee and Mike Tyson are joining forces to create a new HBO drama based on Tyson’s early days in the ring.

If you’re already thinking Lights Out, starring Holt McCallany and Stacy Keach, you should. The series ranked high with fans. However, poor marketing hurt ratings and the series was not able to make it past its first season. Yet, those who had the privilege of watching it, enjoyed it as one of the top shows of the spring TV season.

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Entourage showrunner Doug Ellin and producer Jim Lefkowitz join L.A. Riots’ John Ridley on production of HBO’s new boxing series, which will be based in Newark, New Jersey. Anybody see another similarity to Lights Out? Currently, the series has the working title Da Brick, based on Newark’s nickname Brick City, made popular by artists like Red Man.

The difference between Lights Out and Da Brick will be more in tone. With Entourage’s Ellin behind it, you can expect more sensationalism, balanced out with the gritty atmosphere of Lee’s filmmaking style. Also, you can expect there to be more sex and nudity under HBO, something Lights Out never went for in focusing more on family relationships.

Let us know if you’re looking forward to seeing this new Lee-Tyson-Entourage collaboration series in the comments!

Jennifer Lopez Sets Sights on 'Parker' with Jason Statham

American Idol host Jennifer Lopez is looking to head back to the big screen in Parker, a film adapted from the Donald Westlake’s novel series.

Earlier this week, we reported that quintessential movie tough guy Jason Statham would be starring in the new film. In the film, Statham plays “a criminal who lives by strict moral code and is not afraid to kill for it.”

Lopez would play opposite Statham as his love interest Leslie, while prepping for a new heist.

Her movie ambitions may explain her waffling on the subject of returning to Idol as a judge for another season. The reality star host was last seen on the big screen in The Back-up Plan. She is also looking to score a supporting role in Cameron Diaz’s next film What To Expect When You’re Expecting. The film also features Matthew Morrison of Glee.

Tracy Morgan Returns to Nashville for Apologetic Hug with GLAAD

Two weeks ago, 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan became the subject of controversy when he made anti-gay comments during a comedy show in Tennessee. The comments spurred audience member Kevin Rogers to write a furious letter on Facebook against the 42-year old TV actor.

Since the incident, Morgan has apologized on numerous occasions and has also become outspoken in his support of GLAAD (The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).

This week, Morgan returned to Nashville and spoke with audience members who were at the show. Later, he held a press conference with GLAAD and Rogers to issue another apology.

“He [Morgan] shared his genuine concerns with his words and has promised to me that his actions going forward are going to be positive and supportive of my community,” stated Rogers. “I greatly appreciated what he said.”

“I want to apologize to my friends, my family and my fans and anyone in any community who I offended with this,” Morgan said. “I don’t believe that anyone should be bullied or just made to feel be bad about who they are. I totally feel that in my heart.

“At this point in my life is an opportunity to make a difference. I don’t see gay or straight, I just see human beings now.”

Morgan concluded the conference by giving Rogers a hug.

See the full Tracy Morgan press conference below: